REGULAR-SEASON FINALE: IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THIS
With one game remaining in the regular season, the Colorado Mammoth knows that it all comes down to this. Fifteen games gone by without resolution. The Mammoth, which faces the Swarm at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. on Saturday at 6pm MT, earns the fourth and final seed in the West Division with a win.
Colorado can also secure the number-four seed in the East with a Rochester win over Buffalo. Given that the games’ start times are just 30 minutes apart, will Mammoth coach Bob Hamley pay any attention to the Bandits-Knighthawks game?
“No I won’t,” said the bench boss. “We have the mentality to win [our] game. The way I look at it, it’s the quarterfinal of the West Division. We have to win. We don’t want to lay chance on anything happening on the other side. We want to get fourth, we’d like to stay in the West. That’s our motivation.”
Colorado and Minnesota have split the season series to date. The Mammoth defeated the Swarm, 15-9, in February. Six days ago, the Swarm bested the Mammoth, 17-12.
“They shot the ball very well,” said Hamley of Minnesota’s performance last weekend. “They were prepared. I think their energy early in the game – they wanted to take the crowd out of it and they succeeded in their game-plan and we didn’t. That has to change.”
After scoring just two goals in the first half last Saturday, the Mammoth offense came to life. Forward Casey Powell had seven of his eight points, including four goals, in the final thirty minutes to lead Colorado in scoring.
“A lot of people were doubting him earlier in the season,” Hamley said of his mid-season acquisition. “Casey still has the footwork to play in this league at a very high level. He’s able to get to the net and still do things that not a whole lot of people can do. We’re thrilled with the way he’s playing.”
The power-play (which Powell spearheads) was outstanding at Pepsi Center on Saturday, converting on all six attempts. Two months ago, Colorado was four for five on the man-up against the Swarm.
While special teams are important in any game, Hamley points to this Saturday’s opening face-off as the time to click into gear.
“We have to get out to a better start. We were flat in the first quarter against the Swarm last game and we have to be the opposite of that this Saturday in Minnesota. It’s a tough building and we have to match or exceed Minnesota’s energy.”